A Missouri feedlot embroiled in a legal battle over requests to expand its operation has now been sued by 141 nearby property owners.
The lawsuit describes an atmosphere of flies, increase traffic, pollution and a horrific stench caused Valley Oaks Steak Company, Lone Jack, MO. The suit accuses Valley Oaks of trespassing and being a nuisance.
“The smells are horrific. The runoff is terrible, and the flies that are generated are unimaginable,” said Ken McClain, the attorney handling the lawsuit. “It’s not a situation where they have moved in around the factory and said, ‘We don’t enjoy living around the factory,'" McClain said. “The factory has come to them.”
In March of 2018, Valley Oaks Steak Co., located about 30 miles southeast of Kansas City, sought to expand its cattle feeding and processing operation from current 900 head to 6,999. Valley Oaks has applied to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for the permit. Under Missouri rules, only feedlots with 7,000 head or more are required to submit an odor plan.
A January preliminary injunction prevented the company from expanding to 6,999 cattle in a separate lawsuit involving nearby Powell Gardens. That case goes to trial in February.
Valley Oaks officials have said in the past the operation would be among the most environmentally friendly concentrated animal feeding operations in the country.
In this new suit on behalf of the 141 homeowners, McClain is seeking punitive damages and a jury trial. McClain said weak state regulations and abuse of Missouri’s Right to Farm Amendment are partly to blame for the dispute.
“A number of protections were passed to protect family farms, and these corporate farmers have utilized them,” McClain said. “And through lobbyists, they’ve expanded the understanding of Right to Farm to include these factory farms. It’s abusive, and it’s not good for Missouri.”